Ben Champkin of the Elephant in Torquay has won the title of Young National Chef of the Year.
Champkin beat seven other young chefs to the title in a competition run by the Craft Guild of Chefs, held at yesterday's Restaurant Show at London's Earls Court, which ran parallel to National Chef of the Year competition, won by Hayden Groves.
Impressing a judging panel including Mark Sargeant, proprietor of Rocksalt in Folkestone and Gordon Ramsay's former right hand man, Champkin got the nod of approval with:
• A starter of fallow deer, burnt onion, pickled apple and beets with roasted grapes
• A main of rack of turbot, parsnip, Lardo Iberico, fennel pollen, crisp sweetbreads, golden sultanas, and verjus butter sauce
• A dessert of cherry bakewell, cherry vinegar, yoghurt and wood sorrel
First runner up was Ruth Hansom from the Ritz, followed by Daniel Akrigg from Rogan & Company.
Mark Sargeant, himself a past winner of the Craft Guild of Chefs' National Chef of the Year, said: "Ben demonstrated that he not only has the flair and passion to make a real mark in the industry, but understands fundamental cooking skills, the first and foremost ingredient to success in the kitchen. He worked tirelessly from the moment he walked into the kitchen remaining focussed throughout with well-timed and placed dishes."
David Mulcahy, competition organiser and vice-president of the Craft Guild of Chefs paid tribute to chairman of judges Steve Munkley and fellow judges Brian Turner, Ben Tish, Paul Foster, Christopher Basten and Alyn Williams. "It was a challenge deciding on a winner from such a strong group of young chefs," he said. "All the finalists proved their ability to compete at this level and I am sure will go on to enjoy success in their careers."
The format of Craft Guild of Chefs Young National Chef of the Year, in partnership with Knorr, was revised this year to reflect the fact that many more organisations were keen to be involved, opening the competition up to more young chefs across the UK.
Open to chefs aged 18-23, the Craft Guild of Chefs this year picked just four chefs to automatically go through to the grand final, whilst the remaining four places were fought for in a series of semi finals by winners made up of young chefs from industry wide competitions.